Dr. Michelle Valkanas

Assistant Professor

Department of Biology, Geology and Environmental Sciences


Dr. Michelle Valkanas' training focused on bioremediation of abandoned coal mine drainage. Her current research focuses on bacterial adaptations in extreme environments, including metal resistance, antibiotic resistance, and the identification of molecular markers for contaminated water. As a native to Pittsburgh, Dr. Valkanas has deep roots in the community where she has partnered with Phipps Conservatory, the Carnegie Library, and other non-profits to provide free and accessible informal science education to the local community.

Student Research Projects

Past and current student research projects include:

  • Exploration of how bacteria adapt in extreme environments
  • Investigation of how bacteria can be used to remediate abandoned mine drainage
  • Molecular characterization of bacteria isolated from abandoned mine drainage
  • Antibiotic resistance in contaminated environments

Service Learning Projects

  • Co-advisor of Women in Science Club
  • Led a Summer Science Communication Fellowship that researched COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Pennsylvania
  • Co-developing a traveling genetics exhibit to be hosted at libraries across the United States that seeks to promote a greater understanding of real-world genetics knowledge
  • Lead the microbiology exhibit at Phipps Conservatory‚Äôs Annual BioBlitz
  • B.S. Biology: Duquesne University
  • Ph.D. Biological Sciences: Duquesne University

Email: valkanas@pennwest.edu

Phone: 724-938-4200

Office: Frich Hall, Room 230